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General considerations for sampling airborne contaminants.

McCammon CS; Woebkenberg ML
NIOSH manual of analytical methods, fourth edition - third supplement. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-154, 2003 Mar; :17-34
Proper advance planning minimizes sampling and measurement costs and labor and contributes to a smooth, successful survey. Many things must be considered before collecting field samples (1). The first step is to define sampling objectives. These may include documenting exposures in particular work settings, determining compliance/non-compliance with existing Federal or local standards or recommended exposure limits, or trying to determine the source of a problem. Sampling parameters that should be defined might include type of sample (area vs. personal), contaminant(s) to be sampled, duration of samples, potential interferences and expected contaminant concentrations (or contaminant concentration of interest). Once these parameters are defined, then the proper analytical method and sampling media can be selected. Other general information needed to plan a survey properly include the number of employees, the sampling strategy plan (discussed later), process flow diagram , material safety data sheets on all process materials, the physical states of the substances to be sampled, and potential hazards involved in collecting and shipping the samples. An accredited analytical laboratory should be used to conduct analysis of collected samples and it is essential to consult with the analytical laboratory before sampling to ensure that the measurement methods available can meet the defined sampling needs. This step should be an early part of survey planning. The laboratory can also assist in choosing sampling media that are compatible with the sampling needs and the measurement methods available. The APPLICABILITY section of the individual methods in NMAM can be helpful in choosing which of the available methods is best for a particular situation. Whether through consultation with the laboratory or through reading the specific measurement method, the sampling media will be specifically identified, e.g., pore size and type of filter concentration and amount of liquid media required, and specific type and amount of solid sorbent (see Tables 1 , 2 and 3 for common types, characteristics and behavior of sampling media). If specific brand name products are called for, no substitutions should be made. Most sampling media are well defined through research and testing; deviations from specifications are undesirable. For example, most organic contaminants are sampled with a dual section tube containing 100 mg front and 50 mg backup sections of 20/40 mesh activated coconut shell charcoal. If larger mesh charcoal or a different type of charcoal were to be used, the sampling capacity and recovery efficiencies for the contaminant of interest might change from that specified in the method. The physical state of the contaminant(s) being sampled may also be a factor in determining the media required. In the case of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), for example , the proper sampler consists of a membrane filter to trap particulate matter and a solid sorbent tube to trap the vapors of certain PAHs so that total collection is assured. The sampling pump used to collect the sample must also be compatible with the sampling needs and the media used. Specifically, the pump must be capable of maintaining the desired flow rate over the time period needed using the sampling media specified. Some pumps may not be able to handle the large pressure drop of the media. This will be true for fine mesh (smaller than 40 mesh) solid sorbent tubes, small pore size filters or when attempting to take a short-term sample on a sorbent tube of a higher than normal pressure drop at a flow rate of 1 L/min or greater. As a rule of thumb, all high flow pumps (1 to 4 L/min) can handle at least 3 kPa (12 inches of water) pressure drop at 1 L/min for 8 h. Some pumps can handle up to 7.5 kPa (30 inches of water) pressure drop at flows up to 2 or 3 L/min. Most low flow pumps (0.01 to 0.2 L/min) can handle the pressure drops of available sorbent tubes without problems except that the nominal flow rate may decrease for certain models. All pumps should be calibrated with representative sampling media prior to use. It is good practice to check the pump calibration before and after use each day. As a minimum, calibration should be done before and after each survey.
Sampling-methods; Analytical-processes; Analytical-methods; Quality-control; Laboratory-equipment; Laboratory-techniques; Aerosols; Airborne-particles; Airborne-dusts; Particulate-dust; Particulate-sampling-methods; Samplers; Sampling-equipment; Sample-preparation; Sampling
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NIOSH manual of analytical methods, fourth edition - third supplement
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division